Wong calls for calm as China begins live-fire drills near Taiwan

Wong arrived in Cambodia on Thursday for a series of meetings with regional counterparts including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Wang accused the US of violating China’s sovereignty and did not back down from threats to unify with Taiwan. China claims the democratic island of 23 million people as its own.

“The irreversible historical trend of Taiwan’s return to the motherland cannot be changed,” he said outside a meeting of foreign ministers from the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN). “Those who offend China will surely be punished.”

Other ASEAN leaders expressed alarm over the developments after meeting in Cambodia.

In a joint statement, members of the regional bloc, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, said they were “concerned with the international and regional volatility”, especially close to South-east Asia, fearing it “eventually could lead to miscalculation, serious confrontation, open conflicts and unpredictable consequences among major powers”.

The flare-up has overshadowed discussion between foreign ministers in Phnom Penh about the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.

The junta’s execution of four pro-government demonstrators late last month has angered the likes of Indonesia and Malaysia and Wong said she was “dismayed” at the military regime’s disregard for ASEAN’s five-point peace plan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (centre) with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi.Credit:Getty

While the United States, United Kingdom, European Union and Canada have imposed sanctions against the junta since it removed Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in a February 2021 coup, Australia has refrained from following suit as Sydney economist and Suu Kyi advisor Sean Turnell continues to be detained in Myanmar.

Wong has said repeatedly that the Australian government is considering sanctions but reiterated on Thursday that Turnell was the priority.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is also in Cambodia for the ASEAN regional forum and East Asia Summit meeting, having flown from Naypyidaw, where he met on Wednesday with Myanmar junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Lavrov was welcomed to Phnom Penh by Cambodia leader Hun Sen.

Myanmar has been excluded from the ASEAN-related meetings, to which even North Korea is invited.

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